Ganesa (Photo credit: Marvin (PA))

‘Ganesa is often seen as the creator and remover of obstacles, as the guardian at entrances, and as a spiritually potent figure who can avert evil influences.  In popular Hindu lore he is thus the god to be worshipped first, before all religious ceremonies, public and private.  Things tend to start off with Ganesa, and this is reflected even in common idiomatic phrases, for example, in Maharashtra when a dedication or inauguration is to be performed, a Marathi speaker may refer to the occasion as sri ganesa karane – ‘doing the Sri Ganesa’.  Another such expression is ganapatice kele – ‘to conceive a child’.  Similar phrases are found in other Indian languages

According to the Vedic literature, behind the workings of the cosmos stand powerful controllers, known as devas, or demigods.  As we people in this world control our cars or homes, the devas control various aspects of the cosmos.

Ganesa is a popular hero whose image adorns the walls of shops, homes and temples throughout India.  Even for people unfamiliar with Indian culture or Vedic literature, Ganesa is perhaps the easiest of all demigods to identify, with his human body, elephant head, and potbelly.  He is usually pictured standing, sitting, or dancing, with his jolly elephant face looking straight ahead.  Ganesa is at times depicted with quill on palm leaf, for as Vyasa dictated the Mahabharata, Ganesa served as the scribe to write it down’

(Satyaraja dasa, ‘Ganesa: Remover of Obstacles’ from Back to Godhead Magazine).